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Saturday, 14 September 2013

Becoming a de facto piano teacher

After taking DS1 for his first 'lesson' with his new piano teacher yesterday (where she just had a look through his recent grade 5 piano exam report [he got a B+/credit], heard him play one of his exam pieces, and then spent some time evaluating how much/little theory he knew) I thought we had things sorted. Aside from not teaching 'piano for leisure' (she only teaches the more rigorous 'piano' course - whereas DS1 had been sitting both exams each year previously), and also only teaching 'musicianship' rather than the easier 'music craft' course, she seemed like a competent teacher, although a bit pricey (at $57 for a 45-minute lesson). Although she didn't have a timeslot free for DS2 to also have a lesson, I wasn't too fussed about that, as I feel capable to teach him for the next couple of years (at least through grades 1 and 2) since I studied piano myself up to grade 8 (although I never got around to doing the required grade 5 theory exam, so I never got the official 'certificate' from the AMEB), and did some Bachelor of Education course a few years ago while thinking of getting qualified as a high school science teacher as a redundancy/early retirement (lots of holidays) option, so I know a little bit about teaching in general. Also, having had to register with the AMEB as my sons' replacement 'teacher' in order for them to be able to sit their recent practical exams, this seemed a sensible option for DS1, as spending $38 for a half-hour lesson at grade 1 level seems like a waste of money at that level.

However, this morning the teacher phoned to advise that one of her existing pupils (that had dropped out due to a scheduling problem) had decided to continue with their lessons after all, and the only available (?!) spot was the one DS1 was supposed to have. So, once again, DS1 doesn't have a piano teacher...

Having already found out that one of the other two possible teachers in our area is a rank amateur, and the other wasn't taking on any new students, we're back to square one in the search for a new piano teacher for DS1. I'll have a look if any teachers are available close to DS1's selective school, in which case he may be able to go straight to his piano lesson after school, and then catch the bus home, or wait for me to collect him on the way home from work. However, if there aren't any suitable teachers available, I've discussed the possibility of him just picking the required 4 pieces from the AMEB grade 6 book and then learning them by himself, with me provided some critique and guidance along the way. He can learn the required grade 1-3 musicianship (theory) from the books I bought this morning (before learning that his new teacher was pulling the plug on him), and I've bought the grade 1 online exam for him so he can read through the online tutorials and do the practice exams during the school holidays before taking the actual grade 1 online exam under my supervision in a month or so.

While it wouldn't be ideal for DS1 to try working through grades 6-8 with only my assistance, it would be possible, as his results at this level will be mostly due to his application and amount of regular practice. And, overall, that would mean a saving of around 40 wks/pa x $57 /lesson x 3 years(grades) = ~$6,840! As DS1 is only learning the piano 'for fun' and doesn't intend having a career as a pianist/piano teacher, or even taking music as an HSC elective, he/we may be better off putting that $7K towards buying him a second-hand grand piano (I saw a decent 10-year old grand piano on sale for $10K today), or even just investing it or using it to help fund some post-graduate studies for him abroad...

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